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A Marketer's Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Improve your conversion rates with CRO. Learn actionable techniques for generating interest, converting leads, & growing business.

Many marketers make the mistake of solely focusing on driving traffic to their websites. It's great if you can manage to attract 1,000 people a day to your website, but it may have little impact if only a small percentage of those visitors convert on your offerings.

Very few marketers the untapped potential of the visitors already browsing their site, and that could be a costly mistake for your business growth. A marketing tactic called conversion rate optimization can help you think about your website in a different way -focusing on conversions.

This often-overlooked tactic can unlock your site's hidden potential turning more visitors into leads and customers. If you're open to change and want to optimize your conversion rate, read on for our guide to conversion optimization.

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a digital marketing term used to define the process for improving the percentage of website visitors that convert of your offerings. Typically, marketers will use techniques to enhance engagement and get visitors to take a desired action like clicking a call to action.

What Can be Optimized?

The ultimate goal of CRO marketing is converting a website visitor into a customer, or at the very least, converting them into a business lead. Conversion rate optimization is merely the process of properly testing out variations throughout your website so that a customer can take action while they're on the site.

Whether a visitor is on the homepage, reading a blog post or ready to check-out, there should be calls-to-action at every step along the way. There's always something that can be improved in business, so let's run down a list areas on your site that could benefit from CRO.

Your Homepage

This is the meat and potatoes of your website. Think of the first time you visited a page you really liked. Was it well-designed and straight and to the point?

Now, think of the last terrible page you visited. It was probably cluttered or obnoxious or riddled with ads, right? Nothing turns away a customer faster than a poorly designed homepage. It won't matter how many leads you drive to your site; if it's unable to be navigated well, plagued by ads everywhere, composed with illegible fonts or designed with unpalatable colors, none of those leads will stick around long enough to convert to a customer.

You want your visitors to navigate to what they want easily so they don't get frustrated and leave. If you aren't a designer yourself, hire someone who knows about scale, colors and font combinations.

Believe us, a good designer is worth his weight in gold. You'll also want to implement a way to collect emails for your customer list. This can be achieved by adding a sign-up button (sometimes in exchange for a discount or free informational product,) or setting up a chat bot to instantly answer any of your customer's questions.

Landing Pages

Since these pages are created with the sole purpose of getting customers to take action, most website owners think all they need to do is put a sign-up form and people will do just that. Well, unfortunately, it rarely works that way.

You need a way to capture your audience's attention before they hand over their email address. If you're promoting a product, try adding a preview video or if the landing page is for an event, add pics and testimonials from previous events to entice people. Landing pages should convey a sense of urgency and compel people to take action.

Your blog

If you don't have a blog for your business yet, you're losing out on potential customers and leaving lots of cash on the table. By providing useful information about your industry, you can draw in readers who view you as a valuable resource, which eventually translates to sales.

Throughout each blog post, you can reference (and link to) your products or services and how they would benefit the reader. Call-to-action opportunities are plentiful in blog posts, as well, such as asking the reader to submit his email address in exchange for an e-book or more in-depth information on the topic.

When should you use CRO Marketing?

If you are just starting out with your business, you won't really need any of these strategies just yet. You'll, of course, still want to design your pages keeping our above points in mind, but you'll want to spend your time and resources on attracting visitors first.

Then when you have a significant amount of visitors on a consistent basis, you can start focusing on CRO and converting those visitors to actual customers. You'll want to begin by calculating your conversion rate, which is done by simply dividing the number of customers who actually purchased a product by the number of people who visited that page.

Now, you have the percentage of people who converted to customers and you can begin to set goals to attain using that number as a base.

If you have a conversion rate of 4% and want to double your customer base the following month, you could try two tactics:

  • you could either double your website traffic and hope the quality of visitors doesn't decline
  • or you could attempt to double your conversion rate and turn more of your existing visitors into paying customers.

It definitely sounds easier to convert more existing visitors than it would be to drive double the amount of brand-new traffic to your site, doesn't it? If you want to do less work with more payout, let's explore some of the most effective CRO strategies that you can implement immediately.

Different Conversion Optimization Methods

There are many techniques out there to increase website engagement, so test the ones that fit your particular brand and see how they improve your bottom line before moving on to the next strategy so you can accurately gauge what works and what doesn't.

1. Reduce clutter on your webpages

Stream-lined and focused websites make for the best user experiences, so strive to make all your webpages as easy to navigate as possible.

There are services (like that pay regular people to test your website and give you feedback on everything from the ease of navigation, content, aesthetics and lead conversion paths. These are very useful if you're looking for feedback on the usability of your site and worry it may be too cumbersome or cluttered.

By understanding where your customers are having issues, you can make changes that will help with conversion. Sometimes just changing the font size or the placement of a CTA can result in more engagement. Make sure your site is concise and has a sharply focused vision, also. Having a site map that is well-defined and structured will help customers (and web crawlers) find your site and products that much easier.

2. Run A/B tests on your landing pages

Landing pages were designed to garner engagement from potential customers, so you should test different variations to ensure you have the most effective page. In A/B testing, you'll test one aspect of your page (such as design, layout, your current offer, website copy, images, form questions, etc.) separately from everything else to see what versions convert the most customers.

While you shouldn't change too many things at once, you can run concurrent tests if you're strapped for time. This may seem like a lot of work and almost like a science experiment gone wrong, but it's 100% worth the effort when you get a high-converting landing page out of the process.

3. Reduce form fields

If people want to sign up for your email list or purchase a product, they don't want to jump through hoops to do so. Some people get frustrated at how many fields need to be completed before submitting payment and just walk away from the purchase.

Sometimes simple fixes are the best: if you have fields that aren't absolutely necessary, try trimming them down to only those that are required and see if it helps your conversion rate improve.

4. Utilize your blog posts to their full advantage

People have been bombarded by ads, pop-ups and banners since the dawn of the internet, so we've all become very adept at ignoring them. This makes it hard for websites to really grab someone's attention when needed.

A blog post is a great way to convert visitors since you already have the most important thing: the attention of your potential customer! Add some appropriate and useful text-based calls to action (like links to relevant products) throughout your blog post to get your customer's attention and possibly his sale.

Clickable text-based links tend to convert at a higher rate than those pesky banner ads and they are less off-putting for your reader. If you want something with more pizzazz, though, without turning off your reader, try implementing lead flows on blog posts. Lead flows are sneaky little CTA's that pop-up or slide-in after a minute or two of perusing a blog.

There are slide-in boxes, drop-down banners and pop-up boxes that you could choose from, but because they're easily ignored, they may not be as effective as the simple and non-assuming text-based CTA's.

Don't make the mistake of only adding a CTA to the bottom of the post, as many readers like to merely skim the content and may not read all the way to the bottom of the post. If you want to increase conversion rates, then be creative with your CTA placement so as long as it's relevant to the section being added.

5. Be Genuine

Stay away from stock images and cheesy sales lingo. Customers want to deal with real people at real companies and not be bombarded with the stale stock images that are seen everywhere.

The images on your site should be relevant to your content, and hopefully compelling enough to keep visitors around for a while. If you have a stock photo of a receptionist, why not replace it with a picture of your actual receptionist to garner trust and show authenticity? You'll be surprised by what a little personal touch can do for a company's web presence.

6. Automate workflows

Technology is advancing rapidly, and business owners should always be on the lookout for ways that they can utilize these new advances. There are websites, apps, and programs designed to make sales much easier for your team, and in turn, help boost your conversion rate.

You want to minimize the time your customer spends aimlessly searching your site and maximize the engagement with your sales team. To do this, try to link as many things as you can to your webpage for automation.

You can send emails to customers who've abandoned their shopping carts or send pop-up notifications to your sales team when customers browse your pricing page.

If you want to go one step above that, you could even add a live chat button to your pricing or product page so employees can answer questions in real-time before losing a sale. This can help reduce any friction from the sales process and automated tasks help to engage your customer before they've lost interest, all without tying up your sales team.

7. Re-target old leads

While some marketers don't like to beat a dead horse, there is a lot of value in tracking leads who never converted to customers.

Sending previous visitors emails that include an engaging CTA with relevant and exciting offers can boost your bottom line. And if you have a good marketing budget, you can even track old customers and reach them while they're visiting new sites by utilizing a stellar paid advertisement.

Where do you begin?

This post may seem like an abundance of information, and while it may be overwhelming at first, it's really not that hard to implement all of these within a few month's time to really boost your conversions.

Read through the techniques again and assess which strategy would have the most impact on your business and start with that one first.

Keep detailed notes on what you've changed and how it's effecting your conversion rate so you know if you're heading in the right direction. Good luck and comment below if you have any other tips or additional strategies we missed!

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